Zimbabwe children malnourished as Covid crisis deepens – leading macroeconomic influencers

17 December 2020 (Last Updated December 17th, 2020 08:11)

Economists believe that food shortages and lockdowns have led to an acute rise in malnutrition cases among children in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe children malnourished as Covid crisis deepens – leading macroeconomic influencers
Based on historical data for new cases of Covid-19, South Africa appears nowhere near peak cases. Credit: Shutterstock

Economists believe that food shortages and lockdowns have led to an acute rise in malnutrition cases among children in Zimbabwe. Data reveals that one in three children in the country are malnourished amid a deepening health crisis.

Prof. Steve Hanke

Prof. Steve Hanke, an applied economist at the John Hopkins University, shared an article on one in three children in Zimbabwe suffering from malnourishment due to food shortages and economic insecurity of lockdowns. In his views, what is making the scenario worse is the unstoppable Covid-19 disease and inflation, which is raging at 379.23% per year.

According to a Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment (ZimVac) report the proportion of children receiving the minimum acceptable diet necessary for growth and development fell to 2.1% in 2020 from 6.9% in 2019. Matabeleland, a region located in the south-west of the country, reported the highest rates of global acute malnutrition, with approximately 74,267 children aged five years and below going hungry and with an estimated 38,425 suffering from acute malnutrition.

Breastfeeding mothers are unable to feed themselves or their children due to prevailing drought conditions and coronavirus lockdowns, the article noted. Most of them are surviving on one meal per day, supplemented by a sorghum drink called maheu.

ZimVac has expressed concerns over infant and child malnutrition, with only 19% of the women in their childbearing age having met the minimum nutritional limit in 2020, compared to 43% in 2019. Humanitarian agencies suggest that these factors have to led to high maternal and child mortality rates in the country.

Claudia Sahm

Claudia Sahm, an economist, shared her views on the need for the long-term unemployed to get extended support and benefits from the government till the end of next year. In her views, the pandemic is here to stay and will last until another year. She calls out to the Congress to not forget the people who have lost their jobs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers are continuing their negotiations on a bill to extend unemployment benefits through a $748bn Covid relief package that will provide 16 weeks of $300 weekly bonus to unemployed workers, through April 2021.

Sahm believes that the expiration of the Care Act benefits on December 31 will hurt those who have been without a job for the longest. According to economists, some 1 million workers were reported out of work for the longest period of 26 weeks in November. In addition, approximately 742,000 people applied for unemployment insurance in early December, the article noted.

Data further revealed that unemployment claims have been the highest than in any past recession, and worse still has edged up recently after having declined for one month. Therefore, despite vaccine rollouts, the long-term unemployed will need continued assistance in 2021 within a backdrop of 1 million new coronavirus cases being reported on a weekly basis in the US, according to Sahm.

Branko Milanović

Branko Milanović, an economist, re-tweeted on the pandemic pushing forward the globalisation of labour. Milanović believes that Covid-19 is the first global event in the history of mankind. He also opines that it will enter history books as a global event and is a unified experience, where both adults and the elderly and younger generations are aware of its existence and threat.

In his views, Covid-19 would have been less feared if it was less random. Looking past the damages, he believes that it is a global event marked by virtual experiences that is seamless and equal for everyone. According to him, a global labour market will come into existence without the need for migration. Workers will stay put but work in factories and offices miles away.

Therefore, the pandemic advocates for greater globalisation and mobility of labour already existent in some segments of the world economy such as software design and call centres, he added.